Is My Relationship Normal
Is My Relationship Normal?
How to Know if What You’re Going Through Is Typical or Out There
When there’s a breakdown in your relationship, it can trigger shame.
You don’t want other people to know what he just called you, or how you’ve been sleeping separately, or that he punched a wall or shook one of the kids or isn’t coming home at night.
When you’re scared like that, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from judgment.
That means you can’t compare notes with others to see if that happens at their house too. You’re left feeling alone.
If you did talk about what’s really going on at your house, the person you share it with may tell you that you shouldn’t tolerate that behavior. They might urge you to leave and question your judgment if you don’t.
The shame keeps you isolated in the worst way. Most of us will go a long way to avoid that feeling of shame because it feels like life or death.
That’s why I didn’t want anyone to know about the struggles in my marriage. I wanted to keep my status in the tribe.
So I suffered silently, but it wasn’t necessary.
No Relationship Is Perfect
As someone with a front-row seat to the real goings-on in thousands of relationships, I can tell you that there are all kinds of “shameful” things happening in marriages all over.
I have seen thriving marriages that endured affairs, kids getting hit or shaken, and separate sleeping arrangements–for years.
In some marriages, he’s very close to a female coworker and the wife hates it. Even the perfect family you see in Facebook photos is dealing with the aftermath of one spouse giving the other a sexually transmitted disease even though they’ve been married for years.
Computers get thrown against the wall, a parent has a blowup with a child, large sums of money are spent or lost without the consent of the other spouse. There are threats to leave or commit suicide.
Couples get into physical scuffles, bill collectors call regularly, he drinks in the morning or goes to jail.
I’ve seen couples who screamed obscenities at each other at the top of their lungs. Oh wait–that was my marriage in the bad old days.
In other words, relationships are messy.
I’m not saying any of that is right or fair or okay.
I’m not saying you should just accept or put up with these things.
But I am saying that if you’re experiencing some of them, you’re not alone.
I’m saying that if you decide to keep your marriage anyway, you won’t be the first, and it won’t make you wrong or bad or weak.
It won’t doom your children or make him think he can get away with bad behavior in the future.
You’re a Social Creature
We all have the need to be seen and known.
As social creatures, we want to belong. Shame can interfere with that like crazy. Just having a secret makes us feel separate, but that feeling of separation is a lie.
I was amazed to see the response of other women when I started sharing openly about the very things I was most ashamed of in my relationship: that I raged at him, that he didn’t want to have sex with me, that we had the power turned off for non-payment.
To my astonishment, rather than judging me, thousands of women came closer and felt a bond with me.
I was surprised to learn that the BDSM community passed my books around because they considered me an important thought leader and a frustrated “bottom.”
I guess we have more in common than I realized.
I was honored to be invited to inner circles of faiths typically closed to outsiders, like Orthodox Jewish women and rabbis who pronounced my book 100% kosher, called the Six Intimacy Skills™ Kabbalistic and came to study to become coaches with me.
Then, this born-and-bred Methodist was invited to speak to Mormon women and Muslim women. I felt like a rock star when what was supposed to be a small gathering turned out to be standing room only, and women in hijabs lined up to ask for autographs on their dog-eared, highlighted copies of my book.
Women in Egypt emailed me saying they had believed that only Egyptian men were the way I described in my books. Japanese wives sent me handwritten cards thanking me for saving their marriages. An author in Germany flew to where I live in Southern California to study with me because what I wrote about resonated so strongly with her.
Women in same-sex marriages reached out saying that if they could just get support with practicing the Intimacy Skills, they knew it would bring peace to their homes and families. They cheered at the results.
I share all that not to brag, but to demonstrate that we all have more in common than I ever realized, and sharing what I was most embarrassed about helped to create that connection.
I’m still floored at how very much women everywhere, while they may have different preferences than me, want to feel pursued, desired, safe and special in their relationships.
It’s a small world after all.
My team of coaches and I serve vegans and carnivores who want more passion, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans who crave peace, and even women who enjoy yoga (I don’t) who long to feel desired.
One thing we all have in common is feeling that we are the only one who has the challenge we have in our relationship.
We believe we’re the only ones whose husband isn’t making enough money, or who is too harsh on the kids, or whose drinking gets way out of hand.
That’s just an illusion.
Instead, it seems that on every continent, we have married the same man.
You Can Right Your Ship
So what if you’re enduring one of the difficult situations I mentioned above? What then?
Just because someone else is in the same boat doesn’t offer much comfort when it feels like the boat is sinking.
But just telling someone else can help a lot. It did for me.
Telling the truth and admitting I needed help led to me learning and practicing the Intimacy Skills that helped me get my boat back to smooth sailing.
Women also have in common that we are the keepers of the relationship. We get to say if it will be relaxed and sweet or tense and distant.
We have tremendous influence, even if we don’t know it.
The Six Intimacy Skills provide the access to that influence, and while only you know for sure if they are right for you and your relationship, thousands of women in 30 countries swear by them.
I’m grateful for the sense of belonging I have with them.
It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone.
What has your experience been with breaking the silence? I’d love to hear your comments below.